tv Wresting With His Angel CSPAN September 3, 2017 1:00am-1:46am EDT
[inaudible conversations] booktv live coverage of theal national book festival was the of pulitzer prize-winning historian speaking a little later today you can talk live with him on set at the convention center. creek -- we will hear from sidney blumenthal about abraham lincoln in his final years. also the author of the of book hidden figures of which the of movie is based if you want the full schedule of live coverage go to booktv.org but right now
started and want to remind everybody helps support the of festival the information is in your program after sydney blumenthal finisheses there will be q&a and will be doing a book signing downstairs between 12 and one.l 1 o'cl in a decade and a half of living in washington a lotng has changed. one thing that has not changed is the city is very much a place of the journalists and politicians and scholars and lobbyist sometimes they have symbiotic relationships or parasitic ones or they don'to n interact as all the very
rarely does somebody pass between them and almost never with that adaptability and skill. starting his career as a journalist when he covered washington for "the new yorker" which is generally regarded narrative political coverage in his work as a journalist he coined the p term with the campaign then went into the administration is served for his second term word his portfolio was in the white house after word he returned to journalism with the clinton
and bush administrations now he is in his most ambitioussbush project yet with abraham lincoln i cannot think of an american political figuree more relative to contemporary debate the first of those four volumes started at the beginning eire the words magisterial lead up here and we gave that they could review now this second volume "wrestling with his angel" the political life of abraham lincoln vol. ii, 1849-1856" the battle against the bin douglas and the rise of the party you could not have picked a better moment about political realignment so now please help me to welcome
sydney blumenthal. [applause]o be here. >> great to be here thanks for those kind remarks i am honored to be here at the library of congress national book festival. at the first event i had a conversation with david mcauliffe is said now we really need the lincoln and he said we need them all. [laughter] the library of congress building one of the most magnificent buildings in the country did not used to be such a distinguished address they used to be the location
of a row of boarding houses inhabited and one of those was abraham lincoln he lived the fourth one over and he lived in the boarding house with zero weeks -- with the wig party with the anti-slavery operations and the district of columbia and i am also very happy to bee here speaking to those of you to our fellow washingtonians. so talking about the national book festival the "washington post" said it is a chance to hear people imitate charles dickens. i don't know if that is the case but i will do my a pod
impersonation of dickens talking about a second of four volumes of abraham lincoln this volume is titled "wrestling with his angel" taken from the story of jacob and the bible rustling through what night with an angel or himself in the emerging as somebody else having resolved himself and assuming a new identity takes a new name israel. in something like thatat happens with lincoln but that happens in the years lasting 1849 through 56 he assumed a new identity.
so i will pretend to be dickens for a minute the more time i have spent with abraham lincoln the more i have come to a understandto und the careful result of his intense self discipline the silence of his law partner described an ad asas melancholy for the intellectual absorption and his depression and other feelings in the of self awareness and educations which of formed his acute understanding of politics. even when his life seemed to be reduced to its significance scanning their horizons to interpret this line. and his first formal speeche
in 1838 saw a crisis to, but at what point is it to be expected? if it overreaches us it cannot come from abroad the destruction we must be the offer and finisher so now wrestling with angels describes linkedin -- teeeighteen coming to the revelation of the house divided he would be that man to control his assassination after abraham lincoln when his term in congress after springfield he stared into the distance for long periods of time his
partner would recall him breaking a prolonged silence with the cry a of englishl worl that the political world was dead and things were stagnant in all in the wind of freedom seem to be crushed and teeeighteen was speculating about the deadness and the despair and deeply regretting that his human strength and power was limited by his beecher to stir up the world he said how hard it is to die and leave one's country know better than if you never lived for its.ts own made known universally as there is anything to be done? .
how was it to be done? day you ever think of these things? almost as soon as he headed back tos springfield his wife mary todd turned around to send him on a mission to her home town of lexington kentucky to serve as co-counsel to recover the todd family fortune which was considerable.hims he found himself thrust into the of cortex antislavery and the pros slavery forces while politics and the lawsuit was intertwined so bear with me to follow the thread because nearly a decade very todd's father senator henry clay business
partner and political ally tried to take the top of this date a man named the old duke. he had married a todd cousin who held the state passed away also a leader of the proslavery movement in the kentucky. john todd running for the state senate against the movement was a slave holder himself was demonized with the worst word that could never be used against anyone in politics, abolitionist. in the middle of the campaign in july he died of cholera then link and arrives just in time to
observe the close of -- proslavery movement to prohibit the slave trade within the borders he lost the case and the todd family lost to the estate and at the same moment that political legacy of henry clay was destroyed. of those events are not sufficient, it was a concealed factor. femme weimar's -- from the memoirs the casey verges the todd family secret. the living error was the grandson the only child who
died in a relatively young age that this heir was not a person under the law in fact, he was a slave and was emancipated and shipped to do liberia. 1878 the former slave, with the invisible man of the story had a name. alfred was elected vice president of liberia and added 1883 became president. so that made him very tides second relation to become a president. so we can -- teeeighteen spoke with his mentor who was a conservative that we
must be democrats or abolitionist and stewart would eventually join the democrats. when that time comes my mind is made up that slavery question cannot be compromised he expressed this his anger at the rising slave power he observed in kentucky and was lifted the anti-slavery you with the lawyer -- whig lawyer was driven out of this day and would be some appointed to the supreme court. he described privately theiv kentucky slave holders the most glittering ostentatious
property in the zero world, human property abraham lincoln was on the questions that the tendency of the times was to make slavery universal and in a few years we will be readyfr to except the institution and a whole country will adopt it. so with that hid in history left lincoln smoldering in private until five years later the time to step forward was a great revolution required to break him out of the wilderness. he revolved around the eight judicial district day after day with judge davis.
i shall never forget the first time i see mr. lincoln said one of his closest colleagues and friends. coming into the town of danville, when i called the hotel after dark and i was told lincoln was upstairs in the region i have been brought up normally he could not be approached sought-after i climbed back staircase to find myself so dear that presence of judgeta davis that i could find mr. lincoln and ed response they've responded almost simultaneously so imagine my
surprise when the doormy opened to find two men dressed her bed engaged in a lively battle with hellos tossing them in each other's heads one was a low heavyset man and answered to the description of judge davis the other was a man of tremendous stature looking like he was 8 feet tall andt encased in a long dormant that reached to his heels and protruded to of the largest feet up to that time i had seen this shirt look like it was originally part daughter that original bolts of flannel without
measurement or capacity the only thing that kept us was the single button at thehe approach and i a thought of what might have happened if that button would lose the whole i cannot describe the sensation that this operation might davis is lincoln to shake my trembling hand he reminded me but certainly the of the car the the is to figure i have ever see. [laughter] who was this lincoln? not the abolitionist but he was
naturally anti-slavery that deepening understanding of the complexity the moral political constitutional dilemma began in his childhood the anti-a slavery dissidents in kentucky and indiana whose churches they attended and as a boy he would go down the mississippi river to new orleans he discovered it was the open air emporium slaves on auction on display and it shocked him as a congressman and he lived in a boarding house and experience to the invasion of slave catchers
undoubtedly he knew the secret of the house where he lived it was a station of the of for ground railroad. they booted members times against the expansion in the of slavery in with the quiet assistance of the of leading abolitionist, he drafted a bill for emancipation in the district of columbia something he would make good on even before the emancipation and proclamation was issued but why even today there is emancipation day. but it never even received a single hearing in the housearin then he came home to that of security at bell lowest moment of political despair
marked by a widespread march of democracy lincoln the merged with his cautious side of the 1854 the rifles with that civil stowe -- civil cornerstone is the eternal rival for the beginning of his career seeking a transforming gesture to the democratic presidential of nominations and in the white house trade with the secretary of war said dick cheney of his data jefferson davis of mississippi the defect show acting president of the united states operating behind the weekly and franklin pierce
collaborating on the kansas nebraska and would repeal the missouri compromise that had forbidden slavery or put a line through the country to prohibit backed. but now the repeal made possible the nationalization of slavery which was lincoln nightmare and in the struggle the entire order cracked a part lincoln described the atmosphere of the early resistance but we rose grasping the pitch fork or the butcher's cleaver. but in two new brief
autobiographies he depicted himself as stranger the content becoming indifferent chiru politics as he was contemplating he told the chicago tribune and 8054 you will superseded the bottom of politics with the repeal of the missouri compromise aroused him it was this decisive juncture that though law partner wrote of lincoln ambition. that man waits for the people to call him has herodias knowledge he was always calculating and planning ahead to there was
a little engine that do go rest. how he hung on to the sinking whig party against the extension of slavery and in this period whig -- lincoln throws himself and sequesters himself and drafted a speech against the kansas nebraska act speaking of to the podium never againrepn left this stage of history that the fighter of the declaration of independence all manner created equal, the shakespearean pointed to the moral lot of slavery and alluded to
macbeth where he tries to washout the spot of his guilt. like the bloody hand you may wash it the red witness of guilt still sticks and he was referring to slavery. so in this chaotic periods chao those many movements go throw the landscape against immigrants and the liquor. but find a -- being the founder of the anti-slavery one with the democrats and the whig looking at each other with mutual suspicion.antl some people in the abolitionist movement understood and had a political sense they needed
a gifted political figure to draw those elements together and that brought them to abraham lincoln to the very platform he was speaking in the illinois representative is the kansas nebraska act when he finished this radical group passed him to a joint meeting favor holding that night for a group that they called the republican party and he dodge them. he had a lot case and a distant county and would not attend this radical group. for years he turned over the venice of slavery until 1855 envisioning got prospect
there was no peaceful extension of slavery and had the co-counsel this signal failure of henry clay and other bin -- men together with 1,000 other signs yet another complicating factor entered into the equation, the 3 million immigrants arrived in the united states with the first great wave with a pore irish catholics fleeing the potato famine and other 30 percent were germans following the crushing revolution of 1848. conservative protestants
view of the irish as corruption and poverty both the irish and the germans were beer drinkers they have it that allowed crusaders to ruth called them strokes and a new party rose and did this party of disintegration a mass political party that was known as the know nothing party members were weld if they were asked favor to reply that i know nothing coming from betty york city the order of these "star spangled banner" that attracted the estimated
membership of more than 1 billion only native-born protestants would be allowed to hold public office in the united states and they had a slogan americans only shall govern america. as the crisis deepened weaken wondered how he could be effective while maintaining the identity he wrote to his friend with whom he had shared a friend to preside over the plantation and. to the forefront of his thinking was the threat of
the know nothings how could i be a known nothing? how could anyone have the oppression of negros? our progress appears to be rampant as a nation we began by declaring all men are created equal now we read it except the gross. when the node nothing's get control we're all created equal except negros and foreigners. when it comes to this i'd prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretense of loving liberty. where despotism is pure without hypocrisy.
even then he had a way with words. state-by-state the new republican party was organized in a group ofof anti-slavery newspaper editors asked him to join them to join the convention of the new party he was absent at the time and build the fame that i knew his feelings and judgment i took the liberty to sign his nameju to the cause his first law partner rushed in to the office to remove his endorsement stewart excited the asked if he had signed a list and answered in the negative and said i signed his name but did lincolnthorize
authorize you? i returnedreturn the emphatic, and though then he claimed you have ruined abraham lincoln.oroughly in order to vindicate myself i immediately sat down there brief account of what he had done if he approved orh disapproved i asked him to write or telegraph me at once and in their brief timeonc. his answer was going ahead. at that meeting february february 22nd george schneider proposed a plandenoun
announced a new the know nothings the conference threatened to collapse schneider announced he would abide by his decision androduce the resolution in -- revolution is nothing newready from the declaration of independence you cannot form a party of those principles the declaration hopes to establish the new party on the democratic base his judgment made possible the creation of the illinois republican party which became the instrument to carry to the republican
nomination race he could not perceive the distant future or predict the 10 days that would shock the world to clarify the coming conflict senator sumner of massachusetts looks at the attack on democracy the crime begins kansas taken over by the slave power and on may 21st 2 days later those missouri residents under civil rights under kansas they would ransacking it and on the next day united states senate the books of south carolina
approached him and battered than relentlessly for it to be in retribution. two days later radical abolitionist john brown and his followers condemned men to death in the middle of the night then abraham lincoln stood on the platform of the new party that was founded the republican party.s new id and does he founded his own note of destiny. but also drawn from two
passages of the king james bible from the gospel off mark if the kingdom is divided against itself cannot stand and if the house is divided against itself the house cannot stand every kingdom divided against itself with ad divided house falls. so do declare the candidacy to the u.s. senate against even douglas link explains we could better judgment to do and then just a few years later we thought the political world was dead a
house divided against itself cannot stand i believe thiss government cannot endure permanently i do not expect the house to fall but itill ce will cease to be divided it is all one or all the other. by now lincoln sense of timing was acute two weeks after his defeat so in the 1860's and with the speech of cooper union he concludedneie the there thus be slandered from those false accusations with that menaces of destruction so let us have
and said it could not be disturbed but after a while we went to bed and lincoln's sad that in his nightshirt arguing the point then we went to sleep for the of the morning i will copy was sitting up in the bed he said i tell you this nation cannot exist half slave and you,s ree. he said go to sleep.a [laughter] of little later but in this period a free black woman appeared at the office that her young son hired himself out on the mississippi like what lincoln had done years earlier but when he reached new orleans he was
imprisoned appealing to the governor of illinois or the governor of louisiana so he drew up the subscription list and raised money in drew from his account of what he had to purchase the young man's liberty and then the door swung open and return to springfield to his mother. in order to free him. abraham lincoln's first act of emancipation.